For Texans with peripheral neuropathy, medical marijuana may be a safe and effective alternative to opioid medications.

Peripheral neuropathy can trigger a host of symptoms such as pain, muscle weakness and cramping. Opioid medications are often used to treat neuropathic pain, but these treatments do not work for all patients and can sometimes cause even more side effects. Although a relatively new treatment, medical marijuana may be an effective alternative to potentially addictive opioid medications. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy occurs when the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord are damaged due to traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems and exposure to toxins. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, more than 20 million people in the United States have been estimated to have some form of peripheral neuropathy.

Several factors and conditions may cause peripheral neuropathy, such as: 

  • Physical injury
  • Diabetes (Neuropathy occurs in 60-70% of people with diabetes.)
  • Autoimmune disorders and infections
  • Hormonal imbalances 
  • Kidney and liver disorders
  • Chemotherapy
  • Vascular disorders

Since neuropathy is caused by a wide range of conditions, individual treatment plans are determined by the condition, cause and symptoms. Treatments can include over-the-counter pain medications, prescription opioids, anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, medical procedures, therapies and lifestyle changes. However, some patients do not respond to these treatments or experience unfavorable side effects, leading to an increasing need for an alternative medication like medical marijuana.

Registered doctor describes the success of treating peripheral neuropathy with medical marijuana

Medical Marijuana and Peripheral Neuropathy

Medical marijuana helps alleviate pain and other common peripheral neuropathy symptoms by acting on the body’s Endocannabinoid System. Both CBD and THC have anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce neuropathic pain, inflammation, cramping and stiffness. 

A 2010 randomized controlled trial of adults with post-traumatic or post-surgical neuropathic pain found that inhaled cannabis reduced pain intensity, improved sleep and was well tolerated by participants. Another 2018 review of scientific research and data from randomized controlled trials of medical marijuana for neuropathic pain found it may be as tolerable and effective as current neuropathic drugs. Although cannabis research is limited, early findings and success stories from patients suggest it could be an important treatment option for patients who don’t respond to other medications.

In addition to pain relief, medical marijuana may improve other symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Spasms and tremors
  • Cramping and stiffness

Yes, medical marijuana is legal for qualifying conditions like peripheral neuropathy. To find a prescriber, click below and fill out the form. Within minutes, you will receive an email with a list of telemedicine and in-person doctors who are registered to prescribe medical marijuana.